Thanks to Super Punch, I’m now obsessed with Noelle Stevenson‘s illustrations of the Badass Scooby Gang, which have nothing to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and everything to do with the 1960s-’70s Hanna-Barbera cartoon. While I like the latest piece, in which Stevenson’s version of the Mystery Inc. bunch heads to the beach, I’m really taken by some of the older pieces, which recast the characters as something between an old-school criminal crew and and a team of spies, complete with a tattooed, cigarette-smoking Daphne, who’s apparently exchanged “danger-prone” for “dangerous.” I’m itching to see these spun off into a parody project, a la The Venture Bros.
If Freddie Jones Jr. in trunks and an ascot aren’t to your liking, Stevenson also has a series of endearing illustrations prominently featuring Hawkeye from Marvel’s The Avengers.
Conventions | Three-day tickets went on sale this week for New York Comic Con. Confirmed guests so far include Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Mike Mignola and Josh Gates. [Collider.com]
Publishing | The revelation that DC’s newly reintroduced Green Lantern Alan Scott is gay has moved Christian comic publisher Art Ayris, who is also the executive pastor of a Baptist church, to announce that his company Kingstone Media won’t be including gay characters in its lineup: “If Kingstone is the only comic book company in America doing it, we will stand for the things God says are godly and stand against things that clearly fall under the category of sin.” [Baptist Press]
Retailing | The Avengers movie seems to be bringing new customers into comics stores looking for Marvel titles, at least in Maryland. Pullbox requests for Marvel comics are also up, suggesting some of the uptick is from existing customers. [The Star Democrat]
Conventions | New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mothballed plans for a giant convention center in Queens, leaving the unlovely, unloved, but well-situated Javits Center as the home of New York Comic-Con for the near future. [The New York Times, via The Beat]
Publishing | Alex Klein sees the “outing” of Green Lantern Alan Scott as a desperate move to boost sales by a publisher whose market share is dropping: “Switching up sexual orientation is a cunning way of compensating for flagging sales and aging characters. In the meantime, the industry is rebalancing: toward independent publishers, author ownership, and cross-platform digital tie-ins. As small studios sap talent from the giant conglomerates, comics are changing—and there’s a lot of money to be made in the process—just not in the comics themselves.” And he talks to The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and Image publisher Eric Stephenson about what they can do that the Big Two can’t. [The Daily Beast]
Conventions | ReedPOP has officially announced it will fold the New York Anime Festival into New York Comic Con, rather than continue them as separate events held at the same location. “This move has nothing to do with our loyalty or commitment to the anime community and everything to do with the growth and identity of New York Comic Con as a leading pop culture event,” ReedPOP’s Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “NYCC embraces all elements of the pop culture world, including anime, and we have evolved to a point where the existence of NYAF outside our universe is almost a contradiction. We will be better able to serve the anime community from within the NYCC infra-structure rather than have a show which is separate and which will always be dwarfed by everything that New York Comic Con represents and is.” [press release]
Passings | Cartoonist Jim Unger, whose one-panel comic Herman served as an inspiration for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, passed away Monday at his home in British Columbia. He was 75. The comic appeared in about 600 newspapers worldwide from 1974 until Unger’s retirement in 1992. [The Daily Cartoonist]
The article everyone was talking — and tweeting — about this weekend was Tim Marchman’s scathing critique of superhero comics, which purported to be a review of Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner’s new book Leaping Tall Buildings but in fact barely mentioned the book and went straight to a critique of the comics industry. Marchman starts by pointing out that despite the popularity of The Avengers movie, sales of superhero comics are far below their 1990s levels:
If no cultural barrier prevents a public that clearly loves its superheroes from picking up a new Avengers comic, why don’t more people do so? The main reasons are obvious: It is for sale not in a real bookstore but in a specialty shop, and it is clumsily drawn, poorly written and incomprehensible to anyone not steeped in years of arcane mythology.
There’s a lot more, though, and the piece is well worth a read, whether you agree with it or not. Reaction seems to be mixed in the comics blogosphere so far — I would say everyone finds something to disagree with, but there are a lot of attaboys as well. Todd Allen posts excerpts from the column at The Beat, along with some tweets between Marchman and readers.
Conventions | A group of 21 events companies, including New York Comic Con and BookExpo America organizer Reed Exhibitions, are opposing a plan by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to tear down the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In a letter to the governor that was also distributed to 600 other officials, the Friends of Javits said they would not patronize the much larger venue that’s to be built in Ozone Park, Queens, primarily because of its distance from Manhattan. [Crain's New York Business, via ICv2]
Conventions | Comic-Con International is just six weeks away, and you know it’s coming when Tom Spurgeon posts his annual list of tips for enjoying the convention. It’s a wealth of information, compiled over 17 years of con-going, so go, learn. [The Comics Reporter]
“Jack Kirby worked for Marvel until 1970, and then he returned for another three years in 1975. But since then. in the 30 some-odd years since he left Marvel, hundreds of creators have added to the mythos and stories of the characters that Marvel owns and Jack helped create. Hundreds. And many of them added integral aspects to these characters which are just as important to their legacy as Jack and Stan ever did. Take a look at Walter Simonson’s run on Thor and tell me that he doesn’t deserve as much credit as Jack or Stan when it comes to the lasting mythos of that character as a modern day super-hero. Or how could you have the Tony Stark we saw on screen in Iron Man without David Michelinie and Bob Layton’s ‘Demon in a Bottle’ run on Iron Man in the late 70’s?
Nick Fury was co-created by Stan lee and Jack Kirby. A fictional WW2 army hero. He was reintroduced later as a cold-war spy. A Jack Kirby creation. But then Jim Steranko got a hold of him and transformed him into something else entirely. Steranko injected 60’s pop-culture and sensibilities into the character and his book. Fast forward to 2000, when Marvel decided to reboot their entire universe in a separate line of books called the ‘Ultimate Universe.’ In 2002, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch launched The Ultimates which reinvented the Avengers. A team assembled by a very different Nick Fury, modeled with the actor’s permission after Samuel L. Jackson. You tell me. Are any of these guys even the same character? Or are they different characters with the same name?”
– Scott Kurtz, on renewed calls for proper credit, and compensation, for
Jack Kirby’s contributions to the Marvel Universe
Most papercraft dolls, as cool as they are, are stumpy little blocky deals, but My Paper Heroes has an Avengers set that smashes the old look. The link will lead you to downloadable PDFs with everything you need, including a variant hairstyle for Black Widow’s Iron Man 2 look, a helmet for Captain America and more. Unlike Widow’s feelings about giant, flying leviathans, I can totally see how that’s a party.
Organizations | Tom Spurgeon reports that The Hero Initiative has now received close to $3,000 so far due to campaigns asking those people who watch Marvel’s The Avengers to donate money to the organization. The Jack Kirby Museum, meanwhile, reports it has received $1,300 from Avengers-related giving. [The Comics Reporter, The Kirby Museum]
Conventions | Chris Butcher, co-founder and director of the Toronto Comics Art Festival, reports that about 18,000 people attended this year’s TCAF-related events: “TCAF 2012 was the most ambitious festival yet, and my most ambitious personal undertaking. With more off-site and lead-up events than ever before, more partnerships than in previous years, an additional day of programming, and more than 20 featured guests, I worried in the weeks leading up to the show that perhaps we’d bit off a bit more than we could chew. Luckily through the talent and support of some wonderful folks we had varying levels of success on every front, and as always, lessons were learned and we think 2013 will be even stronger.” [Comics212]
Combining joy over The Avengers movie with sadness about the death of children’s book illustrator Maurice Sendak, Hannah Friederichs has created a wonderful tribute to both. You can see the entire image — including what Hawkeye is so concerned about — below.
After the super-success of Marvel’s The Avengers, everyone in the world knows who Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are. And now Netherlands-based cartoonist Junaid Chundrigar is showing you just how funny they can be (and we’re not talking shawarma here).
Not to be confused with the Brian Michael Bendis-Dave Finch comic book arc, Chundrigar’s “Disassembled” makes Marvel’s heroes, not just the Avengers, bouncy, funny and sometimes creepy.
Crime | Michael Lewis, owner of Rocket Comics in Pensacola, Florida, is being held on a $11,000 bond after his store was raided by police for allegedly selling “Spice,” a synthetic form of cannabis. [WEAR ABC]
Publishing | The Economist’s Babbage blog takes a look at R. Stevens’ successful Kickstarter for his webcomic Diesel Sweeties, which raised $60,000, far overshooting his initial goal of $3,000. [The Economist]
Creators | Gary Groth previews his interview with renowned children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who passed away last week at age 83. The interview, conducted in October, is scheduled to appear in the next issue of The Comics Journal. [TCJ.com]
Legal | Iranian cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh has been sentenced to 25 lashes for a cartoon he drew that depicted Arak Member of Parliament Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani in a soccer jersey. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | In a wide-ranging interview, Dynamite CEO Nick Barrucci talks about the comics market, the demise of Borders, digital comics and the slump in book sales: “[T]here are more and more trade paperbacks and hard covers coming out, so there’s less chance of getting as much attention as you’re used to, and reorders are down because of it. As the number of trade paperbacks and graphic novels increases, the number of SKUs increases, the number of units sold per SKU is decreasing. There are very few exceptions to this. I remember looking at the Diamond chart from a month or two ago and the bestselling trade paperback that month was 7,000 units. It might even have been a Walking Dead trade paperback, and as much as two years ago the bestselling trade paperback sold 12-15,000 units.” [ICv2]
“Take the character of Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson. Like the character of Katniss in The Hunger Games, she has skills you might not expect from her if you mistook her for what her unlucky Russian interrogator did—just another pretty face. Black Widow, or Natasha Romanoff, is a more complicated character than Katniss, though. Possessed of numerous languages, secretive, a spy from childhood with a ‘very specific skillset,’ she’s not all good, though she’s working for good now—she has, as she says, “red on her ledger.” Flawed as she is, as they all are, that only serves to make her more empowering as a role model. You can imagine a young generation of girls watching this movie and thinking they want to be like her, now fighting for good, able to take down aliens and bad men and get bruised and bloody but never give up. As a woman, she’s outnumbered in her gender (the other badass woman in the group is S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, who gets fewer lines but still manages to escape and outsmart certain death over and over again while looking beautiful, as does Natasha). Maybe they’re pretty girls, but they absolutely get their time to shine alongside and on equal footing with the guys in a non-sexualized way. While they do wear tight-fitting black clothes that reveal their femininity (this is a big-budget movie based on a comic book, after all, and the dudes are wearing some skintight stuff as well), they are not considered “less” either by the men or by each other—or even, gender-equally so, by the villains.”
– Jen Doll, writing for The Atlantic Wire on the blockbuster success
of Marvel’s The Avengers, and the importance of superheroes
Comics | With the success of The Avengers film, Kendall Whitehouse discusses the narrative techniques comics have “explored and exploited,” including “multi-issue story arcs, crossovers, team-ups, reboots and multiple title tie-ins,” noting they not only help sell more comics but also have blazed the trail for complex stories: “The story has now become a world unto its own that allows the reader to explore whichever dimensions are of the greatest interest. Follow the events from the perspective of Iron Man or Thor. Or just peruse the core series and ignore the supplementary story elements. The series presents a nearly unbounded narrative universe for the reader to experience. It is easy to interpret this with a cynical eye as nothing more than a series of cheap marketing tactics designed to pump sales. And yet, when well executed, something larger emerges.” [Knowledge@Wharton Today]
Retailing | Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day also served as the grand opening for Aw Yeah Comics, a store in Skokie, Illinois, owned (as the name suggests) by Tiny Titans creators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani and retail veteran Marc Hammond. [Skokie Review, Time Out Chicago]